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The $680 add on seems like overkill, but I guess $1580 is not too bad for a decent 5.2.4 Atmos setup. From what I’ve read, discrete ceiling speakers are the way to go though. I wish there was a package with two additional surround sound speakers for a 5.1.2 setup.
You're correct in your assumption. I have these speakers (the left & right channels) and the idea that the upfiring speakers can bounce sound off the ceiling is bogus. It just doesn't work. When the Atmos speakers are on, you sense the sound is coming directly from the speaker itself, not the ceiling (I have standard 8' high ceiling). No sense of height at all. I ended up disconnecting the 2 Atmos speakers entirely and installing speakers near the ceiling.
It's not bogus. It all depends on the speaker and ceiling and how well your AVR can accomodate for this. For my atmos setup mine are angled and it makes a world of difference. These appear to be upward-firing so I don't think they would offer a true Atmos soundfield. Even when I use my height presence speakers that are forward firing (and angled a bit down) they add something to the mix that isn't there when I have them disabled for other sources (non Blu-Ray's).
I think these are angled slightly. I you google these speakers, one of the top links is to the Pioneer website, which shows better pics and a video with Andrew Jones in which it seems clear that the Atmos speakers are angled. It makes sense that the experience with reflective Atmos speakers would vary based on equipment and the room. I'm curious, if you're willing to share, what's your AVR and which speakers are you using?
Interesting. Thanks for sharing your experience. Other than the height effects not being great, how do these speakers sound? I'm assuming you've experimented with placement-- does moving the speakers around change anything with regard to the Atmos effects?
Overall, the speakers sound very good. As for placement, I don't have many options in that area do to the room configuration. They have ports in the rear, so they can't be placed too close to a wall in back. I have them connected to a Denon X3400H AVR. The Denon uses a remote mic and runs "Audyssey" to balance out the speakers levels & range. The Audyssey calibration goes through all the speakers, including the Atmos ones (I have a 5.1.2 setup). In the speaker setup the Denon asks if the Atmos speakers are upfiring speakers, and if so, how far from the ceiling they are. I tried varying the distance and recalibrating to see if that would help, but it didn't.
In addition, I recently talked to a guy who calibrates home theaters for a living and he said that you really need the Atmos speakers in the ceiling to get the proper effect. He's never come across upfiring speakers that performed very well.
I run a Yamaha RX-V681 with Polk Monitor Series II loudspeakers: Monitor 70's in the front, Monitor 60's for the rear, CS10 for the center, and I run two PSW10's. My Rear surrounds and presence speakers are Infinity's (I forget the model #). For my room size, this setup is actually overkill but it creates a great soundfield that I've enjoyed for years. For gaming and movies, I really don't have any complaints. I normally use Yamaha's YPAO mic and then cater the sound to my liking once it's gone through the calibrations.
When I had top-firing speakers, they weren't as focused or detailed as my angled front presence speakers, but they did add height and effects to the mix. If you weren't paying attention most of the time you'd never notice unless it was a helicopter or plane flying overhead or rain on a tin roof, etc. It varied wildly. With the front height speakers, it's as clear as day. My one test for any of this is if my wife notices. She's pretty oblivious to most things so when she comments about surround or height effects being real and her thinking they're coming from outside, I feel like I've done a good job with my own calibrations and setup.
I'm sure in-ceiling mounted speakers are the best. I'm just not able (or willing) to install them considering the room layout. The cost wouldn't make sense for what I would get in return. Maybe if I had a dedicated theater room that would make more sense.
I own the bookshelf edition of these Pioneer Elite speakers (Pioneer SP-EBS73-LR, currently being offered on Massdrop) and with a 'bi-amp'-capable home theater receiver*, feed the two pairs of binding posts with the same signal. The sound from top-firing driver bounces off my (flat, normal height) ceiling, complimenting the front-firing drivers. The sound emanates from the whole end of the room, rather than just two points, and the result is impressive, to say the least... especially from speakers with such a small footprint.
I can also use these speakers as rear-channels in my home theater by laying them on their sides - with padding (and rubber bumpers) to angle them properly. The front-firing drivers act as the surround channels, and the top-firing drivers are the rear-surround channels, reflecting the sound from my back wall. (I understand this is not optimal sound-wise, but these avoids having to run another pair of speaker wires... to another pair of speakers.)
* An older model Yamaha HTR-5590 receiver, the front buttons of which turn-on and -off the 'A' and 'B' amps separately, for an easy comparison with and without the top divers activated.
I have read you are not supossed to run these in bi-amp. Not exactly sure why! I would just check into that, I read once it can damage the speakers. Maybe because they are sharing the same enclosure and not supposed to move in sync at same rhythm? That is a guess but worth looking into.
In my case I'm not running them bi-amped. I connected the top firing speaker in series with the main speakers. Thus converting what was a 4 ohm speaker into a 8 ohm speaker. After setting my AVR for 8 ohms this has been working perfectly fine for several months.
I think I know the AVSforum thread JamesBroom355 is referring to about bi-amping. In the post the author doesn't state why he thinks these shouldn't be bi-amped. In fact I think he was referring to the Yamaha A3040 receiver and not the speakers at all. Since these are 2 completely separate speakers with their own crossovers, I don't see any possible harm.
Nor do I. These speakers are impressive, to say the least. Kudos to Mr. Jones and Pioneer in producing the Elite line.
Is there anything comparable under $2000?
With the caliber of sound that I'm getting from the Pioneer Elite bookshelf model (also offered on Massdrop)... and considering that these speakers are brand new with a 2-year warranty and support from Pioneer, surely this Atmos-capable tower/center/sub bundle would rank among the best options available.
Though if your budget is $2000, I recommend getting the starter bundle ($899), a pair of the Pioneer SP-EBS73-LR (bookshelf model in this series; when it's available on Massdrop again for $330), and an SVS subwoofer that suits your budget/looks/power requirements.
Nothing comparable under 2000. I am a broke audiophile. Online reviews of these speakers are correct amazing sound for the price. If you've never owned high-end speakers, you will be amazed.